Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV-Programme 'Space: Above And Beyond' depicted in this story are legal property of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Hard Eight Production and 20th Century Fox Broadcasting and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement intended.





Part One

McQueen lurched forward, a cry escaping his lips. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and his heart hammered wildly.

Several drops of sweat rolled off his forehead and into his eyes,stinging madly. He scrubbed at his eyes in a irritated manner.

The cabin was silent, with only the normal creaks that indicated the SARATOGA was moving. McQueen tugged at the tangled sheets, and swung his legs over the edge of his bunk. He rubbed at his throbbing temples. The nightmare had haunted his sleep again.

IV's weren't supposed to be able to dream. That's why he couldn't understand why he kept having the same dream night after night for over a month now.

McQueen rose slowly and walked over to his desk and poured out a glass of water. The dream always left him feeling thirsty. Drinking the cool water slowly, He gazed out his port window, watching the stars passing by in a soft blur.

It would help if he knew what the dream meant. But none of the psychology books he owned explained the reasoning behind the dream he kept having.

Oh sure, they offered pat answers to some questions concerning dream symbology, but nothing of use to him. Slowly, McQueen relived the dream in his mind, going over each detail with excruciating care.

The lighting in the room was dim, and the air cool to the skin. The soft hum of power came from the six cylinders that occupied the rom. Six IV tank cylinders.

McQueen remembered looking at the cylinders. They were larger then normal, with special reinforced glass. It was the one unfamiliar control on the power grid that always drew his attention first.

The control was round, and fed a rusty looking orange fluid continuously into the tanks. All he remembered was the sick sensation that grew in the pit of his stomach whenever he observed that liquid.

It was the look of discomfort on the face of the occupant nearest him that McQueen noticed next. Not a expression of pain, just one of discomfort.

McQueen remembered also, what the man in the tank looked like. He had a sturdy build, with a broad forehead, and a strong angular features. Sandy brown hair floated gently in the tank, cut just below his shoulders. The man's brow was knitted, and McQueen observed a occasional facial twitch.

There was a small metal plaque just above the tank controls. McQueen read it.





There was more information, but McQueen's attention was always diverted at this point. Someone was at the door. The door, or doors always drew his interest away from the tank cylinder.

McQueen had only heard of DNA security scan-locks. They took a sample of the recipient, analyzed it, and admitted or denied access seconds later. He heard that Madam President, and certain military generals had them, but they were damn rare.

McQueen never saw the man entering the room clearly. But he could tell he was a few pounds overweigh but the way he moved. There was something else too, some imperceptible sense. The sour, bitter odor of fear, McQueen decided. The scientist pulled off his lab coat and draped it over a stool.

He then pulled out the rifle stock from under his shirt, and beneath the leg of his slacks, where it had been hidden by the lab coat.

He lay the stock on the counter, and slowly began ferreting out the other pieces of the assault rifle from where they had been hidden away in various parts of the room.

The rifle was assembled and loaded. McQueen couldn't see the man's face, but he could feel the anger, fear and sorrow that poured from him like a flood.

The scientist picked up the rifle and walked over to the nearest tank cylinder and lay a hand on the cool glass.

"I'm sorry it had to turn out this way. We should have known they would break their promises and corrupt our plans."

McQueen saw the man's shoulders slump dejectedly.

"The plans they have----We can't allow you to reach fruition." The scientist said, stroking the glass regretfully, almost lovingly.

"You have no idea the monsters AEROTECH wants to turn you into. Unfeeling, superior killing machines. No human should be subjected to that, let alone be the cause of it." The scientist stepped back a few feet and raised the rifle and aimed at the cylinder.

"I'm so sorry you never had a chance. But better this then a life of unending hell." He aimed the targeting beam at the cylinder and gave a long, shuddering sigh that shook his frame.

The gun barrel slipped a few notches. Gathering up his wavering resolve, the man forced the trembling in his hands to stop, and braced himself as he pulled back the trigger.

The sound of automatic gunfire filled the room. The reinforced safety glass deflected the first few shots. Then the glass weakened and shattered, sending fragments of glass and liquid everywhere. The IV collapsed and fell to the floor in a wet heap. Spasms shook the body as the IV writhed and struggle for life.

McQueen always winced at this point, pain, sharp as a K-BAR striking at his gut. A look of pure agony crossed the IV's face as he thrashed about, uncomprehending the reason pain suddenly clawed at him.

McQueen felt tears gather in his eyes as slowly the body ceased struggling, and lay limp and unmoving amidst the glass and fluid, his battle mercifully over.

The overpowering odor of chemicals filled the air. A alarm shrilled loudly in the room. The scientist's shoulders were shaking in a convulsive manner. McQueen could sense the man's tears.

"I'm sorry!" The scientist cried out as he aimed and fired at the second cylinder, destroying it. Another struggle for life began and ended. McQueen heard the sound of thundering feet. There was a loud commotion in the hallways, and the sound of Sewell's voice making a indistinct order.

The scientist cursed loudly as he heard the override activate on the first door. Either they had been betrayed, or the rest of his party were now dead.

With his time rapidly running out, the scientist aimed and destroyed the third cylinder as the first door groaned open. The fourth cylinder exploded in a mass of glass and chemicals as the second door ground open. The fifth cylinder went down as the third door opened with a protesting wheeze. Solders poured into the room.

The scientist whirled and aimed at the last cylinder just as his body was riddled with gunshot. his last gaze perceived the destruction of the cylinder, and a smile curved his lips. He was dead before he hit the floor.

The scientist had died, never knowing that his body had jerked as the shots hit it, knocking his aim slightly off. The last IV still struggled for life.

A team labored over the struggling form. McQueen felt the excruciating pain radiating from the from strike him like a anvil blow.

The figure screamed out in terror, not understanding what was happening. McQueen felt that scream for help in every fiber of his being.

The pain intensified, flowing over him in relentless waves. McQueen had a glimpse of the purest, most vivid shade of violet he had ever seen, just as he began falling. He struggled, unable to breath, then there was nothing but the cold blackness claiming him, and swallowing him up completely.

A second, or maybe a eternity later McQueen heard voices.

"Did the last one survive?"

"Yes, but the damage sustained may be irreversible."

It was always then that McQueen awoke, terror clutching at him, leaving a bitter taste in his mouth.

Knowing he would never be able to return to sleep now, McQueen grabbed his clothing and dressed. He would have to work off the excess feelings still flowing strong through him. He headed off to the exercise room.

"Evening Sir." Ensign Chase greeted McQueen. McQueen nodded at the attractive, dark-haired young woman. Chase was the night deck officer. She was sharp, showed good initiative, and was as loyal as they came. He had no doubt that she would make officer class in no time flat.

"Anything to report?" McQueen asked.

"Just a couple that thought "making it" in a ISSCV would be a great thrill." Chase told him with a grin.

McQueen's forehead creased. "And?"

"I wrote them up and kicked them out."

McQueen nodded. "Keep up the good work, Ensign." He said, giving her the faintest of smiles.

"Yes, Sir." Chase offered, returning McQueen's smile with one of her own.

McQueen walked into Ross' quarters. "You asked to see me Sir?"

"Yes." Ross poured out two glasses or rum and handed McQueen one. "Everything I'm about to tell you is as a friend, not as your C.O. Understand?"

"Perfectly." McQueen answered, taking a chair near Ross.

"You know General Moss and I go way back." Ross said more as a statement then a question.

McQueen nodded, and waited for him to continue.

"Well Pat called in a favor the other day."

"And?" McQueen inquired, taking a sip of the smooth rum.

"He requested that I pay him a visit. He also asked me to bring you along. You specifically, Ty."

"Why? He's never shown any interest in me before." McQueen stated.

"I don't know. He's being awful close-mouthed about it. All I could get out of him was that if we wanted to burn AEROTECH's butt a little, to come."

"Strange." McQueen said, swirling the amber liquid in his glass gently. "Did he specify a time?"

Ross nodded. "In two days he'll have a transport waiting at 1200 hours in the MULTARIUS system."

"What do you think?" McQueen asked. He took another sip of the rum, savoring the taste.

"Something's up Ty. Something big, I can feel it."

"Wish we had more information."

"So do I. But I owe him, so I'm going." Ross picked up his guitar, and ran a loving finger over the strings. "I'd like you to come with me."

McQueen ran his thumb over the rim of his glass thoughtfully. Glen was only asking. The decision really was his.

"I'll come." McQueen told him, taking another sip of the rum. It flowed warmly down his throat.

Ross strummed a few bars on the guitar. "I'm glad." He said, looking up at McQueen. "I know I can rely on you."

McQueen smiled faintly at the compliment. When Ross complimented someone, he really meant it.

"Besides, getting away for a day or so might do you some good. You've been looking a little peaked lately."

"It's nothing." McQueen assured him.

"Ok, but if that "nothing" turns into anything, you come and talk to me, ok?"

McQueen took a deep swallow of the rum. It burned it way down his throat, and left a warm feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"As a friend, Ty, only as a friend." Ross clarified, picking up his own glass and taking a drink.

Ross and McQueen stepped off the transport. The air on the surface was cold, crisp, and filled with the smoky odor of fall. McQueen fought back a shiver. He wasn't really cold, it was just a feeling of premonition that something was going to happen. He felt like he was standing at the edge of a precipice, afraid to look down, yet knowing he would soon have to.

They were escorted to the General's personal quarters with a noticeable lack of pomp. It seemed to McQueen that nobody took any notice of them. Strange, very strange.

General Pat Moss was a older, distinguished man. He still had a figure that many middle-aged men would have fought for. He still had a full head of hair, the grey adding a distinguished touch. Their were lines on his face that told many a story. Only by looking into his eyes, was McQueen able to see a touch of the conflict that raged there. Concern, and even a little frustration were mirrored there.

"Commodore Ross, Colonel McQueen. Thank you for coming." He poured out each man a cup of hot coffee. "Kona blend, hard as hell to come by, but well worth it."

Moss sat down and took a deep drink. He then look steadily at both men. "What I have to say is, and will continue to be "off the record". Do you understand, gentlemen? This is a friendly visit, nothing more."

Ross nodded, and McQueen reluctantly agreed.

"Two years ago, AEROTECH lost a very valuable "piece" of equipment. One of their most prized "prototypes." They were mad enough to bite nails and shit them right back out again. They've done everything in their power to recover it, all for naught. I still hear the occasional murmur left by ongoing attempts to find some sort of clue."

The general pressed his lips together, forming a thin line. "I got my normal shipment of coffee about a month ago. You can imagine my surprise when I found this hidden inside the container." He held up a tiny micro computer chip.

"I assume that is what AEROTECH has been looking for?" Ross asked.

"No this is just the tip of a very large, very ugly iceberg." Moss frowned as he placed the chip back away in it's protective case. He picked up his coffee cup and then as abruptly put it back down. "Frankly, it's a damn ugly can of worms. Well beyond anything I've ever dealt with. But it sure as all hell has to be dealt with. That's why you gentlemen are here."

He looked steadily at Ross. "I can't bring to mind even a dozen men I'd trust with this, but you Glen----I think you could handle it, and handle it well."

Moss looked at McQueen next. "And you Colonel McQueen. I've studied your track record, your personal history, and hell man, this is right up your alley."

"Sir?" McQueen questioned.

Moss held up a hand for silence. "The date chip has the records of experiments that AEROTECH has been conducting for the last twenty years."

Ross nodded. "Dirty fingers." He said, breathing in the aroma of the coffee and smiling delightedly. He savored a slow mouthful.

"Got that right. They're into it up to their elbows. They've been working on Human/Chig crossbreeding.

Ross choked on the coffee. He cleared his throat. "They what?!"

AEROTECH captured several Chigs, and have been conducting experiments on them. Or I should say had. Chigs seem real good at "offing" themselves.

Both men looked thoroughly disgusted. "Good." Moss thought.

"They also have been working on manipulation of DNA in IV's. After there crossbreeding program failed, they devoted most of their time on their IV project.

"What kind of experiments are we talking about here?" McQueen asked in a seemingly calm voice. But Moss saw the anger in the Colonel's eyes.

"From what the chip shows, they were trying to create some kind of "super soldier". Heightened strength, senses, and paranormal abilities. However, three years ago, a group of their top lab experts staged a revolt, and destroyed all of the tank cylinders. They also managed to destroy most of the lab records."

McQueen drew in a deep breath, a icy claw clutching his midsection. He took a calming drink of coffee. He looked up to see Ross watching him, gauging him for a reaction. He nodded almost undiscernibly to let Ross know he was alright.

Moss looked at both men for a few seconds before continuing. "All but one of those IV's died in that attack. And that one survived, and went AWOL two years ago.

"What?" McQueen demanded.

"It appears that AEROTECH had a conspiracy brewing within the labs. Some of the scientists didn't like the idea of AEROTECH corrupting their IV's. So they planned out a revolt. "

"Why'd they let AEROTECH get involved in the first place? AEROTECH doesn't have a rep for integrity." Ross asked, hoping that Pat would offer him another cup of that excellent coffee. Best damn stuff he'd tasted in ages.

"Money. They didn't have the budget to get the project off the ground." Moss told him.

"Figures." Ross stated, smiling as Pat refilled his cup.

"And the survivor decided that they didn't like the crap AEROTECH was pulling and went AWOL?" McQueen asked.

"That's pretty much it. I have to admit that the IV must be pretty damn clever to elude AEROTECH tentacles for the past two years." Moss looked at McQueen to see how the statement affected him. Nothing. The man's face was blank. Damn, this might be harder then he originally thought.

"Now it seems that AEROTECH'S closing in, and that IV's getting a little desperate."

"What happened?" Ross asked.

"About two months ago, AEROTECH tracked the IV to a lone outpost and dispatched several ground crews to recover their "property". Just when they managed to seal the place up nice and tight, someone blew it to hell. One hundred and sixteen bodies were recovered. Six were IV's, but their "IV" wasn't recovered." Moss stopped to take a drink before continuing.

"Aerotech watched the place for weeks. It's a damn barren place gentlemen. Their were no signs of activity. No survivors."

McQueen felt disappointment pour over him, followed by sadness. He pushed the feelings away, and focused his concentration on what the General was saying.

"Or so they thought. We were only able to break the code on this chip a week ago. Only one person could have sent it. Only one person knew about its' existence."

"So the IV's survived?"

Moss nodded. "With the data chip came the request for asylum. And that gentlemen, is where you come in."

Ross frowned darkly. "Let me get this straight. You want us to grant asylum to some super-soldier with God knows what powers, and have a vengeful AEROTECH sniffing up our butts too?"

Moss smiled at Ross' candor. "You always did have a way with words, Glen. What I'm offering you is the chance to take one of AEROTECH'S finest "experiments" away from them. To finally get a strangle hold on those slimy geeks."

McQueen's teeth clenched at the thought of any IV being thought of as a "experiment". But there wasn't anything he could do about it. He drew on inner reserves of fortitude, and remained calm.

"I respectfully ask sir, that you tell us EVERYTHING you know about this IV." McQueen said, politely, but pointedly.

The silence that filled the room sizzled with tension. Moss gave McQueen a long searching look. "Fair enough." He said finally.

"The information I've managed to recover is rather scanty." Moss said. He watched McQueen closely as he talked, noticing the carefully concealed fury. "Good, maybe he had pulled the right strings after all."

Moss pulled out a thin folder from inside his desk. He opened it and read from a sheet. "The IV's name is Alex Sommerville. Decanted 3 years ago at the Rio de Janeiro Facility. "

"And the special abilities?" McQueen asked, noting how the man was scrutinizing him, while avoiding certain subjects.

Moss looked at McQueen. He could almost admire the man's persistence. He was looking at a damn good soldier, a lifer, things he could understand and respect.

"Limited telekinetic ability. Accelerated IV and combat training, mnemonic recall, and more insight into the Chigs then the whole Marine Core."

"Just how much telekinetic control are we talking here?" Ross demanded.

"A hundred, maybe two hundred pounds. I've been told that control of that weight is rudimentary."

"What about discipline?" McQueen asked.

"Sommerville is more disciplined then most ten year marines." Moss told him almost proudly. Almost too proudly for someone without personal knowledge, McQueen observed.

Silence filled the room, as all three men went over private thoughts.

"Gentlemen, why don't you take some time and think about it? Let me know what your decision is, say 800 hours tomorrow?" Moss suggested.

Ross nodded agreement. McQueen however gave Moss a level look.

"Exactly where is the IV right now?" McQueen demanded, albeit politely. Moss seemed almost angry at the question.


"Not good enough, Sir." McQueen probed. The two men faced each other, each refusing to lower eye contact. Finally Moss gave a disgusted snort. "I think I would have enjoyed having you serve under my command." Moss stated with a half smile.

"Sir?" McQueen questioned, still waiting for his answer.

"At my home, Colonel."

"Thank you Sir. 800 hours then." He told Moss respectfully.

"How the hell did you know that, Ty?" Ross asked back in his quarters. He loosened his collar, and sat on his bunk. "I was aware he was yanking our chains the whole time, but how could you have possibly known?"

"Instinct." McQueen offered. "That and the belief that Moss is somehow personally involved in the situation."

Ross nodded, and rolled up his sleeves. "You've always been perceptive. What do you think?"

"It is a messy situation, with countless complications. At the same time, it's a very good opportunity." McQueen's face reflected the multitude of emotions churning within him. "I don't know if I can be fully objective here." He looked up at Ross. "I don't even know if I want to be."

Ross reached out and squeezed McQueen's shoulder. "It takes a good man, a honest, noble one to admit that. If you want this, it's yours."

"I think I'd like to give it some more thought." McQueen offered, giving Ross a weak smile for the faith he offered him.

McQueen arrived at Ross' quarters the next morning a little early. He knocked, entered, and found Ross still shaving.

"So what are your thoughts?" He asked, leaning closer to the mirror to get the area under his nose.

"I was wondering why you're using such a old-fashioned razor."

Ross smiled, and looked to see if he had missed any spots. "I prefer the feel of it. Sometimes modern isn't always better." He rinsed the razor, and towelled off.

McQueen looked thoughtful for a minute. "I think we should go ahead with the plan of offering asylum to the IV."

"I'd like to hear your thoughts why." Ross said as he put on a little aftershave, and fixed his collar.

"It's too good an opportunity to pass up. We need information on the Chigs if we are going to win this war. I would also like to know what part AEROTECH has played in the war."

Ross waiting, silently, knowing he wasn't done.

"I would like to offer Sommerville a chance. I had one good break that kept me from becoming something ugly. I learned from that experience, and I hope Sommerville can too."

"We both did. A lot happened back at in the mines. Our friendship was one of the good things."

McQueen nodded. "I would suggest that we take Sommerville on as a Liaison information officer. Then if things don't work out, we can minimize the damage."

"That and I think we'd both like to get the jump on AEROTECH. Ross said with a grin.

"So, gentlemen, may I have your answer?" Moss asked without any formalities.

"It's been decided that it would be to the best interest of the Core that we accept your offer." Ross told Moss.

"Good, good. I'll arrange transport when you next receive a shipment of supplies. That will be in three days, correct?" Moss said looking at a sheet of paper.

At Ross' affirmation, he handed Ross the data chip. "This is yours now, I know I don't have to caution you to secure it."

"Did he seem relieved to get the matter off his hands?" Ross asked in a soft whisper as they walked away from the room.

McQueen nodded. "I still get the feeling he hasn't told us everything. There's more to this, I'm sure of it."

In the now empty room, Moss gave a heartfelt sigh. He opened a drawer and drew out a picture. It was of a young, smiling dark haired woman in a white lab coat. "Well Cassie I did my best. I can only hope this is what you would have wanted. If only you had listened to me, but you were too stubborn, just like your old man."

The supply shuttle was late. Ross wasn't overly concerned, since it was less then a hour late, but McQueen. It was getting hard not to grin. The man was worried, he could tell. Outwardly his demeanor was calm, collected, and pretty much his normal efficient self. But Ross knew him, and knew when he was nervous.

The shuttle docked fifteen minutes later. Again, Ross almost smiled at his friend's relief. They were both surprised, however, when Sommerville came down the ramp. The woman looked briefly around the flight deck, and rested on the two men. She re-adjusted her bag, and headed over towards them.

"Commodore Ross?" She asked in a soft, smokey, almost velvety voice. "Alexandra Sommerville. I believe General Moss notified you of my arrival."

"That he did." Ross told her. "But apparently not well enough." He thought with a smile.

McQueen eyed the woman as he would any fresh recruit. She was maybe about 5'8 coming just up to his collarbone. She had a sleek, well-toned body, and moved with a self-confident ease. He followed the movement of her eyes, noting that she was highly observant, by the quick way she had scoped out the area.

Her hair was light blond, it's long length neatly braided and coiled at the base of her head. She had a heart-shaped face with high cheekbones, a narrow nose that tilted slightly up at the end, and full lips.

McQueen noticed she wore a v-necked, light green jumpsuit with the words "TANTIS COLONY" stamped on it. He also noticed that she filled out the jumpsuit quite nicely and all the right places. The fact that he noticed that irked him.

It wasn't until he got to her eyes that McQueen froze. She had violet eyes, fringed heavily with golden lashes. The same shade of violet that had been getting brief flashes of in his dreams for over a month now. "Damn." The word just seemed to slip out.

She tossed him a questioning look. "Sir?" She inquired.

"Colonel McQueen, my first in command." Ross interjected. "This was getting very interesting." He thought.

Alexandra nodded, and then looked back at McQueen.

"General Moss told us to expect a Alex Sommerville." McQueen explained.

"Were you expecting someone else, Sir?" She inquired, gazing at him steadily. McQueen stared right back, frowning slightly.

Ross stepped in, noticing the sparks, that were just beginning to fly. "General Moss led us to believe you were male."

Alexandra nodded slightly. "It would appear that General Moss has a quirky sense of humor. I will do my best to fill in any other omissions he may have inadvertently left out if you wish."

Ross nodded. "Channing." Ross said, getting the attention of one of his aides. "Show Sommerville to her quarters." He turned back to Alexandra. "Mission briefing in two hours in my ready room." He told her.

"Yes, Sir."

"Welcome to the SARATOGA, Sommerville." Ross added as a afterthought.

"Thank you, Sir. Colonel." Alex nodded at both men, and followed the waiting aide.

"Nice packaging." Ross said in a voice only McQueen could hear. McQueen turned at stared at him like he had grown a third arm. He was going to have to stop teasing McQueen, but it was just too good to resist. Ty hadn't reacted to a woman in god knows how long. He had a feeling things were going to get interesting.

Alex was wearing SARATOGA civilian wear next time they saw her. She was sitting at a table, her head bend over her file, when they came walking in.

She stood, and waiting until they were both seated before seating herself. She held up the file. "I'm afraid this report won't do you much good." She tapped it against the table. "It would appear that General Moss pulled on over of you."

"Are you saying the report is inaccurate?" Ross asked. Alex frowned before answering. "For the most part, yes. About fifty percent is accurate, and that information is sadly outdated."

"Fill us in then. Detail the inaccuracies please." McQueen requested.

"Of course Sir." Alex told him. "First of all, I would like to state that I have Telekinesis abilities, not telepathic ones. I cannot kill a person with my thoughts, nor can I read the thoughts of others. I wanted to dispell any erroneous beliefs."

McQueen rubbed a scar on his cheek idly. "Go on." He urged.

"The data on my telekinetic abilties is also incorrect. My best range is a hundred pounds. I can move a hundred and fifty with a great deal of effort. Beyond that I face risks."

"What risks?" Ross asked. He leaned back in his chair, and folded his arms across his chest.

"Cerebral hemorrhaging." Alex stated quietly. McQueen noted that her eyes darkened as if she remembered something painful. Briefly she outlined her abilities, and answered questions.

"Tell us what happened at the TANTUS Colony." Ross probed.

"Of course, Sir." Alex said. Her eyes darkened again, and gleamed with a sad wistfulness.

"Curtis Mangrove was the leader of the colony. It was him that extended the invitation to join them there. I warned him of the danger AEROTECH posed, but he still wanted me to join them anyway."

"What kind of work did you do on TANTIS?" McQueen asked.

"We were working on research on fusion reactors. It requires a delicate, precise touch. I'm skilled with machines, and I was trained to remember everything there is about reactors." Alex told him, looking down at her nails.

AEROTECH was offering a astronomical sum for my recovery. Someone on TANTIS betrayed me, betrayed us all. Curtis befriended me, and was determined that I get away.

He planned on blowing on of the minor reactors as a diversion, but it caused a unexpected chain reaction. I did my best to try and control the damage. I pushed to hard and woke up hooked to a medi-bed in the emergency caverns beneath the base." Alex gave a shaky sigh.

"I found out their were only fourteen survivors. Curtis had been one of the first to die. With him gone, I wasn't exactly welcome there any more. As soon as I could, I send a message to Moss." Alex, drew a deep breath, gaining her composure back.

"Why Moss?" Ross questioned.

"Because his daughter was numbered among the casualties. She was a friend, and I felt her father deserved the truth."

"I see." Ross said, slowly flipping his pen in his fingers.

"What I do think is important is the data AEROTECH programmed into me. Tatical data, flight patterns, methods of attack." She smiled wryly before continuing. "Even Chig phobia's and superstitions."

Alex eyed both men before continuing. "However, since you were not given the full truth, you might want to consider recanting your offer to General Moss."

"What is it you want?" McQueen asked, not about to let up on her.

For a split second, Alex's face changed. She looked tired, bone tired. Weary of life. McQueen recognized the look. He had been there himself. A second later, the walls were back up.

"What I want, Colonel McQueen, is what everyone wants. To fit in, to have a place to belong."

"Well, " Ross stated. "You've past a battery of loyalty tests. Moss was very exact with that. It looks like you've undergone more tests them required of Madam President herself. Hell, I've never even heard of some of these tests. I don't think loyality is at issue here."

Ross stood and looked at McQueen. "McQueen this is your shot, you call it." He then nodded at her, motioned for her to remain seated, and left the room.

Alex's brow was wrinkled in confusion. Her gaze met McQueen's and held it. He met her gaze with his own, seemingly testing her was some reaction. Finally, he stood and held out his hand for the file. Alex surrendered it, clenching her teeth in the hot sense of disappointment she felt.

"I expect nothing less them complete discipline from you. You will follow my orders to the letter unless Ross belays them. No special treatment, no special nothing. You get your butt out of line once, and you're out of here? Understood?" McQueen asked, still holding her gaze.

"Yes Sir."

"Don't make me regret this." He warned in a soft, powerful voice.

"I won't sir."

"Dismissed. You'll get your job duties accordingly."

"Sommerville." Came the quiet command as she turned to go.

"Yes Sir?" Alex asked, turned back to look at McQueen.

"Welcome to the SARATOGA." >

Next : Part 2

Back : To General Fiction